Seven years in an independent league and Colabello is proving the Twins were right to sign him.
Seven seasons in the Canadian-American Association. That’s how long Chris Colabello toiled in the league. Finally, he was signed as a minor league free agent by the Minnesota Twins. Let’s backtrack just a bit though.
After his college days at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, Colabello went undrafted. That’s how his seven-year stint in the league began. After all, there was a team in Worcester.
Within those seven years saw Colabello managed by Butch Hobson for the partial season he was with the Nashua. More prominently, when playing for the “hometown” Worcester Tornadoes, it was primarily Rich Gedman overseeing Colabello. In his last season with Worcester, Ed Riley was at the helm.
Over those seven seasons, all Colabello did was produce. He never had a season where he hit under .300 (.301 was his lowest, coming during the 2010 season). How’s a slashline of .317/.390/.514 with 86 HR and 420 RBI grab you? It certainly did the Twins.
This was absolutely zero risk with this signing. If Colabello was unable to duplicate his independent league numbers, no sweat off the backs of the Twins. If he did produce, the scouting department and front office look like geniuses.
It’s 2012 and Colabello is on the roster for Minnesota’s Double-A affiliate in New Britain of the Eastern League. That season, he hit .284 with 19 HR and 98 RBI in 134 games. His OBP was .358 and he slugged .478. Not quite the line from independent ball, but is was certainly a respectable line.
2013 saw Colabello hit Triple-A Rochester. And hit, he did. In 89 games (391 PA), he produced a slashline of .352/.427/.639 and added 24 HR with 76 RBI. His season was so impressive that he was named as the International League’s MVP and Rookie of the Year.
During the 2013 season, Colabello was called up and made his MLB debut on May 22. But there were struggles as he accrued only one hit in his first 11 at-bats. Seven days after being called up, Colabello was optioned back to Rochester. (I’m beginning to think seven might be a profound number here.)
But as fate would have it, he was recalled thew following day when Trevor Plouffe hit the disabled list due to a strained calf. It’s also worth noting that Plouffe hitting the 7-day concussion DL was the reason Colabello was promoted the first time.
But his 2013 MLB struggles continued. By the end of the season, all Colabello produced was a batting average of .194 and his OBP was .287. For the first time as a pro, Colabello had a SLG under .400 at .344. And his stint in winter ball wasn’t all grand either.
That didn’t deter the Korean Baseball Organization’s LG Twins from calling. And within that report by Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, Colabello also turned down a $1 million offer from another KBO club.
Here comes spring training. Back to his old ways as Colabello looked the guy that once played for Worcester. In 43 AB, he had 15 hits (.349 BA) and posted a .462 OBP. There are occasions when numbers like that won’t guarantee a spot on a club’s 25-man roster. This time, it did.
So far into this season, the scouts and front office are jubilant (maybe even doing cartwheels in the hall) and do look like geniuses as Colabello has been a positive for the club. He leads the AL in RBI (26) and doubles (9, tied with three others). There his slashline of .325 (8th)/.364/.542 (14th) that also brings attention to your eyes.
Yes, we’re barely an eighth of the way into this season, but if Colabello has truly found that which made him Baseball America’s 2011 Independent League Player of the Year, and the IL’s 2013 MVP and Rookie of the Year, the Twin Cities will quickly become his new home.
And there was this…